By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
European Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal and one of his charges, Sergio Garcia, made their second trips to Madrid's Palace de la Zarzuela on Tuesday. This time, though, the two Spaniard brought the Ryder Cup to their audience with King Juan Carlos I.
Olazabal, Garcia and vice captain Miguel Angel Jimenez also gave the King a signed shirt worn that Sunday at Medinah Country Club as the Europeans equaled the largest comeback in history as they stormed from four points behind to win the biennial competition.
“He made us feel very comfortable and at ease and it’s been a very nice conversation,” Olazábal told europeantour.com. “He said he was very pleased with the polo shirt from that famous Sunday which is history now and said he wanted it in his trophy cabinet. He said he watched a lot on TV but could not watch it entirely but he has asked us to send him the DVD which we will do.”
Olazabal made his first visit to the palace in 1994 with his family after the World Golf Hall of Famer won the Masters for the first time. He said he was honored to represent a team this time, and Olazabal said King Juan Carlos "touched my heart" when he mentioned the late Seve Ballesteros, perhaps Europe's greatest Ryder Cup player.
"He also talked about the performance of the Spanish players in The Ryder Cup, especially the passion we have put into the event," Olazabal said. "He was very knowledgeable.”
Olazábal later talked to reporters about some of the highlights of the match -- particularly the way Ian Poulter finished off his Four-ball match with Rory McIlroy, making birdie on the last five holes to earn a pivotal point for the Europeans.
“What Poulter did, especially on the Saturday, changed the heart of the rest of team,” Olazabal said. “When we got together on Saturday evening I could see on their faces there was a different look. There was a totally different atmosphere which was the key to the victory the following day.
“Then on Sunday there were so many emotions. Sergio recovering his match and winning that point was essential and then when Martin Kaymer holed that putt he closed the door to the American team."
Garcia, who teamed with Luke Donald on Saturday to beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker, was similarly impressed.
“Ian Poulter was amazing,” Garcia said. “He knows the meaning of The Ryder Cup and he lives for the Ryder Cup. It’s fantastic to have someone like him in the team, someone who can make the spirit turn at the right moment. If I had to choose one moment of the Ryder Cup it is quite difficult as there were so many highlights. But the last two points on Saturday were essential. Poulter’s putt on the 18th that evening and also Luke Donald’s tee shot on the 17th.
"But I still cannot shake from my mind Justin Rose’s putt on the 17th on Sunday, and finally Martin Kaymer’s putt was incredible."
Garcia said he and Olazabal talked with Kaymer, who had struggled with his revamped game and only played in one team match, on Saturday night. Kaymer and Garcia had breakfast together prior to the Singles, as well.
"I said to him if I had a wish, it would be for him to hole the putt which meant Europe won the Ryder Cup, and, of course, Martin did exactly that,” Garcia recalled.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MEDINAH, Ill. -- The game of golf lost one of its larger-than-life characters last year when Seve Ballesteros died after battling brain cancer. But European Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal felt the loss of his mentor and abiding friend more than most.
Olazabal vividly remembers playing with Ballesteros in his first Ryder Cup at Muirfield Village. The two won three of their four matches in Europe's historic victory, its first ever on U.S. soil.
"I was shaking like a leaf," Olazabal said of the walk to the first tee on Thursday. "It was huge crowds, very loud, similar to what we are going to see here this week. So I kept my head down, and he approached me as we were walking on to the first tee. He looked at me, and said, 'José Maria, you play your game, I'll take care of the rest.' And he did.
"He was a great figure. I think not just for myself, but for the whole European squad, not just that year, but every year that he played in that team. We are going to miss him a lot."
Olazabal made sure the European Team doesn't forget Ballesteros at Medinah. Each player's golf bag will feature the iconic silhouette depicting Ballesteros’ celebration after holing the winning putt at the British Open in 1984 -- a moment the Spaniard once called "the happiest moment of my whole sporting life.”
Ballesteros, who later used the image as his business logo, had the silhouette tattooed on his left forearm. He played in eight Ryder Cups, compiling a 20-12-5 record and winning 22 1/2 points from 37 matches.
Olazabal, who had an 11-5 record with Ballesteros as his partner, feels the tribute allows the five-time major champion to be with the team "every step of the way.
“Seve was an important part of The Ryder Cup because of
the way he played and conducted himself from his opening match in
1979," Olazabal said. "This is the first time since then that he
has not been present in anyway because in 2010 he was able to talk
to everyone via the telephone.
“Seve set a wonderful example to generations of golfers and for me there are many, many memories particularly involving The Ryder Cup. Now the best tribute we can pay to Seve is to go on playing for him and his image will certainly ensure he is alongside us throughout the week.”
During his press conference on Monday, Olazabal declined to answer when a reporter asked him whether the European Team would wear Ballesteros' signature blue and white on Sunday.
"I have to say in that regard that I talked to Davis regarding that question ... and he was very understanding of it, and I'll say no more at the moment," Olazabal said.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- We won’t know for another month who will be the captains’ picks for this year’s U.S. and European Ryder Cup teams, but Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal offered at least some insight on Wednesday.
“We'll be plugging holes, matching pairings,” Love said. “Obviously if Steve Stricker was on the outside, we have a guy that likes to play with him that's a lock.”
Tiger Woods is that lock as he’s the only player on either side to have mathematically secured a spot.
As Love indicated, Woods has had success alongside Stricker. The two compiled a 6-2 record when paired together in the last three international team competitions (2-1 in the 2010 Ryder Cup, 0-1 and 4-0 in each of the last two Presidents Cups).
Stricker is currently 10th in the standings. Only the top eight players after this week’s PGA Championship will automatically make the U.S. team, however. Love will then make four captain’s picks Sept. 4.
Others on the outside looking in include Hunter Mahan, who has won twice this season, at No. 9, and Jim Furyk, who had leads late into the U.S. Open and last week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, at No. 11. Furyk also finished second in Tampa, losing a playoff Luke Donald.
Rickie Fowler, who won earlier this year at Quail Hollow, is No. 12, while Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson and Bo Van Pelt round out the top 15.
But as we saw with Keegan Bradley, a player can make a big leap in the standings with a win -- particularly this week with double points being awarded (players receive two points for every $1,000 in prize money earned). That means everyone down to Matt Every at No. 37 has a chance to earn an automatic spot with a victory at the PGA Championship.
“It just shows you that we are strong and all of the guys at the top are taking turns playing well,” Love said. “There's a lot of golf to be watched. Fifty-one days (until the Ryder Cup), there's three tournaments after this week. I would think somebody can get really hot that we are not even looking at.”
One player Love will be looking at is an ice cold Phil Mickelson, who is on the bubble of earning one of those automatic spots at No. 8 in the standings.
Mickelson, who won at Pebble Beach earlier this year, has just one finish inside the top 25 on the PGA TOUR since April. At one point during that span, he failed to break par in nine consecutive rounds -- the longest such streak of his career. He’s also missed the cut in two of his last three starts, including at the British Open, and admitted to being “lethargic” the last two months.
If Mickelson were to struggle again this week, he could drop in the standings and that might force Love to use one of his picks on the veteran of eight Ryder Cups and nine Presidents Cups.
“I think he and Steve and a lot of guys are trying really hard to make the team, and that might be hurting them a little bit,” Love said. “We have all been there; the last few weeks, you press a little bit, you try a little too hard.”
Olazabal is facing a similar dilemma with Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington, who have played in five and six Ryder Cups, respectively. They are 12th and 29th in the current standings, though Europe’s top 10 players won’t become final until the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles later this month.
Europe’s team will be comprised of the top five players from the Ryder Cup European points list and the top five not otherwise qualified from the world points list. Olazabal will add two captain’s picks the day after Europe’s top 10 spots become final.
“He's a great team player,” Olazabal said of Garcia. “His spirit is always really good, and in that regard I think he's a great asset to the team. It's true that at the moment his game is a little bit off. Pairing-wise, he's proved the last few Ryder Cups he can play with anybody, and he's done well. I think that's very important. If you are looking at the players to be on your team, Sergio would certainly be one of them for sure.”
Harrington’s chances seem far more tenuous.
“He has to do really extraordinary well,” Olazabal said. “He's well down the list. He's a very methodical player. From tee-to-green, his game has been fairly good, but I think his putting has let him down this year so far. If he really does extraordinarily well, he can have a great chance of making the team still, but it's going to be up to him.”
Whoever Olazabal and Love pick, both men will lean on their assistant captains, among others, when it comes to making their selections.
Love added that he doesn’t yet have a hard list of player’s he’s considering when it comes to his picks. But he does have an idea of what characteristics he’s looking for.
“You want some hot putters,” Love said. “You might want another long'-ball hitter.
“This week is important, because it ends the points. But it's just as important as any of the guys who play at Greensboro or who plays well at Barclays. I would like to catch somebody that's hot this week and the next two tournaments they play.”
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods didn’t need it, but Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Steve Stricker, Luke Donald and amateur Patrick Cantlay – to name a few – did.
What was it? The 10-shot rule.
After two rounds, the Masters cuts to the low 44 players and ties and anyone within 10 shots of the lead. That meant Woods slid in on his own (147, T-40) while the others needed those two shots of grace to make the cut at 5-over 149.
Sixty three players in all made the cut.
Stricker and Bradley shot 77s, but eased in at 4-over 148 along with Fowler and Donald. Cantlay shot 78, but made it at 149.
Who didn’t make it? Among others, former Masters champions Mike Weir, Jose Maria Olazabal, Larry Mize and Tom Watson (151) , Bernhard Langer and Rory Sabbatini, who both shot 80s Friday and finished at 152, Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa (153) and Darren Clarke, who shot 81 and finished at 154.
The leaders have yet to tee off at the Reno-Tahoe Open, but they are already facing pressure to go low in the final round.
Troy Matteson had made five birdies in his first 11 holes to get to 10 under, three off the lead held by Scott Piercy.
Canadian Matt McQuillan has also made a much needed final-round move. He’s 4 under through nine holes, and sits at 9 under. McQuillan entered the week 148th in the FedExCup standings, putting him on the Playoffs bubble.
The winner of the Reno-Tahoe Open will earn a spot at next week’s PGA Championship if already not qualified for the event. The only player near the top of the leaderboard that is in the field next week is Steve Elkington, who won the PGA Championship in 1995.
Elkington is tied for third at 10 under, and leads the five major champions that made the cut in Reno this week (Todd Hamilton – 7 under, Justin Leonard – 6 under, Shaun Micheel – 4 under, Jose Maria Olazabal – 1 over).
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM
BETHESDA, Md. -- Martin Kaymer walked off the course amazed at Rory McIlroy's performance.
He didn't see a lot of shots, but he saw enough to call McIlroy's game fantastic.
"The way he plays golf, it's a different golf,'' said Kaymer, who won his first major last August at the PGA Championship. "It's close to perfect.''
". . . .It is great for him to win the event early in his career. He's only 22 years old and especially after what happened at the Masters, you know, all the eyes on him. And to finally to bring it home and to win not only, I would say, the biggest over there, anyway, besides the Masters, but it's the U.S. Open, if you are the champion of the United States, it's quite impressive. And to be the second Irish. I mean, I'm very happy for him and for his family, as well. He has great parents. It's great to see.''
Kaymer did say, though, that Congressional was . . . well, not Pebble Beach or Pinehurst.
"It's not really a U.S. Open golf course, to be honest,'' Kaymer said. "It plays softer. You have birdie chances the first nine It plays fairly easy. If you hit the fairways, you can go straight at the flags. And the greens, they roll along. Still, 16‑under, or wherever he'll finish today, it's very impressive and I'm very happy for him.''
McIlroy's expected win will also give the Internationals a string of five consecutive major championships for the first time ever. Internationals held four in a row in 1994 -- Jose Maria Olazabal (Masters), Ernie Els (U.S. Open) and Nick Price (British Open, PGA).
When asked what he thought that said about American golf, Kaymer said, "It says, I think, that the Americans struggle a little bit. Since Tiger (Woods) has been on a, how do you say, a little down.''
He added that the advent of the World Golf Championships have strengthened international golf, but that it was Padraig Harrington, who won three of six majors (2007, 2008 British Opens; 2008 PGA Championship) "gave us at least the belief that we can win here in America, as well."
Here is the live interview schedule for players speaking in the media center this week, which will be streamed live on PGATOUR.COM:
Tuesday, May 31
11 a.m. – Jack Nicklaus
2 p.m. – Justin Rose
3 p.m. -- Jose Maria Olazabal
4 p.m. -- Ben Curtis
Wednesday, June 1
10 a.m. -- Luke Donald
11:45 a.m. – Keegan Bradley
Noon -- Charl Schwartzel
3:30 p.m. -- Fred Couples
HUMBLE, Texas -- No bragging rights. Really. None.
That’s what European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal said about his Thursday-Friday pairing with U.S. captain Davis Love III. Just fun and golf. Nothing else.
What will he be paying attention to at this week’s SHO? Just about everything.
Slowly but surely, Olazabal is returning to form after being sidelined much of last year with a recurrance of his rheumatoid arthritis and a back problem.
“Well (I’’m) not a hundred percent,’’ he said. “Still the right arm hurts a little bit, but the rest of the body is feeling better.
“At this point it's more down to, you know, practice a little bit and play a few events, you know, to, again get the feel of competition, playing in tournament conditions which are completely different to what we practice on, obviously tougher conditions being in a tournament. Just get back to the playing rhythm of competition. I think that will help as well, first of all, to know where my game is and to improve from there.’’
Nothing specific, he said. Rather everything in general.
“I would say pretty much everything needs a little bit tuning up,’’ he said. “Kind of really, you know, one day could be the driver, next day could be the putting. That's how it's been last three, four weeks. It's not one particular area that is really weak. I think overall it's everything is a little bit off.’’
As for the current world rankings? With Europeans in the top four spots and five of the top seven? He grinned, but said it’s all cyclical. It wasn’t long ago, he pointed out, that he, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Nick Faldo were all in the top.
Plus, he said, the Ryder Cup is a year and a half away. He still grinned. -- Melanie Hauser
Here’s a look at some numbers on this week’s Shell Houston Open at Redstone:
-- Twenty-one times the Shell Houston Open has been decided in a playoff, dating back to 1946. That’s more than any event on the PGA TOUR except for the U.S. Open (32). Last year, Anthony Kim defeated Vaughn Taylor on the third extra hole, ending Taylor’s chances for qualifying for the Masters.
-- The 488-yard par-4 18 th hole at Redstone Golf Club’s Tournament Course ranked as the 20 th-most difficult hole on the TOUR in 2010 with the field averaging 4.317. In the five years the event has been contested on the Tournament Course, only one champion (Johnson Wagner/2007) has played the 18 th hole under par for the week.
-- Steve Marino, who finished second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard,is 12 th in the current FedExCup standings -- the highest among those players without a win on TOUR in 2011.
-- Transitions winner Gary Woodland will play in the Shell Houston Open Wednesday Pro-Am with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic from ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike show as part of a Shell initiative to support the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Shell has auctioned off two Wednesday Pro-Am spots with the winners (Lew and Pauline Peters of Lowell, Mass.) playing with Greenberg, Golic and Woodland. The auction was held on March 9 and raised $43,750 ($18,750 from the auction and $25,000 donated from Shell). In three years, this program has contributed $139,750 to the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Mike & Mike will broadcast their show Wednesday morning live from the Shell Houston Open prior to playing in the pro-am.
-- Jose Maria Olazabal, who has been battling a re-occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis, will be making his first start of the year on TOUR in Houston. The 2012 European Ryder Cup Captain will play with 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III and 2011 Bob Hope Classic champion Jhonattan Vegas in the first two rounds.
MARANA, Ariz. – For the first time since 1992, the top four players in the Official World Golf Ranking are all from Europe.
Martin Kaymer officially took over No. 1 when the rankings were released on Sunday night. Luke Donald, who beat Kaymer to win the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, rose from ninth to third, the highest ranking of his career.
Lee Westwood, who was eliminated in the second round at Dove Mountain, fell to second. He had held the top spot for 17 weeks, after ending Tiger Woods’ reign at 281 straight weeks.
Graeme McDowell, who lost in the Accenture quarterfinals, remained at No. 4 but he is now ahead of Woods, who has dropped two spots to fifth. The last time Woods was ranked lower than third in the world was April 6, 1997 prior to his first Masters victory. A week later, Woods had climbed 10 spots to No. 3 behind Greg Norman and Tom Lehman.
The last time four Europeans led the way was on March 15, 1992 when Ian Woosnam of Wales was No. 1, England’s Nick Faldo was No. 2 and Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal was No. 3 and Seve Ballesteros was No. 4.
Here is the new top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking:
|4.||Graeme McDowell||Northern Ireland|
|5.||Tiger Woods||United States|
|6.||Phil Mickelson||United States|
|8.||Rory McIlroy||Northern Ireland|
|9.||Steve Stricker||United States|
|10.||Matt Kuchar||United States|